~ A perfect fall weekend in Indy with lots of coffee! ~
When Caffeine Crawl first came to Indianapolis in 2012 almost all of specialty coffee in the state was coming from Indianapolis. Now Indiana has embraced a strong love for quality coffee, and this year’s Caffeine Crawl not only saw the local gems, but also a few others in places like Bloomington and West Lafayette collaborating with Indy shops and roasters.
It’s no secret that October is picturesque throughout the Midwest, and paints a great scene to pair a variety of coffee types with, whether brew methods, origins, or temperature preparations. The setting for the two-day event aligned with the expectations. One thing that continues to keep Indy fresh is that each shop and roaster has variation in their style, and what represents them.
5 different coffee roasters presented on this particular Caffeine Crawl. The veteran of the coffee class was BJ with Bee Coffee Roasters, and we have been drinking her coffee ourselves for at least 6 years. The Bee crew used a recent origin trip to Guatemala for their presentation. They brewed Chemex’s of 3 different processes of their Guatemala Finca San Jeronimo Miramar, and presented on the differences of each coffee and drying process.
One of the statewide collaborations was Uel Zing and Tinker Coffee teaming up at Tinker’s space. Uel Zing brought their bottled cold brews, roasted by Tinker, and each of us visiting was given a small bottle to take home. Tinker brewed over- and under-extracted coffee to demonstrate the importance of effective brewing, especially at home. Hubbard & Cravens Coffee & Tea brought out the brewing devices as they used a black honey Geisha from Costa Rica, and had us sample tastings from the French Press, SIphon, automatic, and Kalita at their Penn. location, and the Modbar at their Downtown shop. No matter how long you’ve been around, or drinking coffee, it’s always a fun exercise for the palate to taste the same coffee brewed different ways.
Speaking of brew methods Mile Square Coffee was joined by special guest Dean Anderson from Wilbur Curtis. Mile Square recently switched from an exclusive roasting operation to a coffee bar inside the Indianapolis City Market carrying multiple roasters. For Caffeine Crawl they brewed coffees from other Indiana roasters, Dagger Mountain and Abbey Coffee, on the new Curtis Seraphim.
Liberation Roasting Company has been a guest on a previous Caffeine Crawl, but this was the first year they hosted at their roasting facility. A spread of treats from Garfield Park Eatery greeted us alongside brews of Liberation’s Ethiopia Shakiso Kayon and Nicaragua Las Nubes Coop. Andy and Vickie showed us the roasting area with Andy running us through a brief roasting cycle.
Community was a key element with other participating shops, too. Bites, Coffee and Dessert Bar used their barrel-aged coffee roasted by Julian Coffee Roasters served both hot and cold. Victor with Bites has always been a Caffeine Crawl fan favorite. Known for their cocktails and desserts also, a few of us ended the Friday night route with a cascara Manhattan there. Tim Stiffler-Dean with Brew The Way came in town from Ohio as a participating stop (and after party host). Victor had Tim set-up at his shop to discuss his relationship with coffee, and how a simple drink can change the course of one’s life. Tim shared his story, which was part of a previous TED Talk. Tim used a coffee from Boston Stoker, and brewed on the Chemex for us, to share the path of that coffee’s farm to roaster relationship.
Kimmie Burton at Foundry Provisions brought back Herron High School’s art students that had art work displayed at the coffee shop. During our stop at Foundry several students would discuss their work as we casually enjoyed our lavender macchiatos and assortment of macaroons. To follow through with the creative theme, we each had to use different available media to make our own coffee illustration. Rabble Coffee has a strong relationship with the local community, and Josie Hunckler established her cafe with the help of a barter system with the Indianapolis Trade School. Josie’s barista team passed out samples of their Tinker Coffee custom house blend, Rouser, and she explained her path and story through a visual presentation.
Doughnuts (and donuts) have become a newer tradition on Caffeine Crawls, but what goes better than doughnuts and coffee together? We’ll give you a few minutes to answer that. General American Donut uses well known Stumptown Roasters based in Portland, OR. As we’d walk in for our scheduled Caffeine Crawl stop a gorgeous pile of their donuts awaited us. Everything from traditional sprinkles to cereal pieces to lemon zest to bacon topped a different tasty pastry. We had the choice of of their Stumptown espresso, Hairbender, brewed drip method, or as an espresso. More comfort in our bellies came from the Thirsty Scholar. A lot of us haven’t had our pumpkin fill yet, and Danielle Davenport helped fulfill that craving with a chai, espresso, and pumpkin latte.
The activities didn’t end with the 5 routes stretching from Friday afternoon through Saturday. There was more celebration ahead. Even though their staff had other commitments that weekend, Julian Coffee Roasters was kind enough to host Brew The Way’s special LIVE! after party. Tim Stiffler-Dean and team brought in music talents, Arts Fishing Club and DJ Renato Ibarra to entertain the crowd. The party utilized Julian’s inside and outside space as a cool, fall breeze with local beers, coffee cocktails, good vibes and chats took over the night. We couldn't do this without our supportive sponsors.
4 years of Caffeine Crawl in Indianapolis now, and it has been great watching the scene grow and develop. We’ve always witnessed a decent amount of out-of-towners come in for the event, but this year it seemed to be even a higher number - adding to the great questions and curiosities that make for a successful Caffeine Crawl!